Expert Tips to Keeping Organizations Cyber-Secure This Holiday Season


When thinking of holidays, taking a break from work and spending time with families is what comes to mind. But the cyber threat actors do not think so. For them, the holiday season is the best time in the year to deploy various cyber-attacks and breach unguarded systems. Since most attacks occur during non-working hours, holidays are a golden opportunity for cybercriminals. It has been like a trend in 2021.

FBI and CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) have seen this during the Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Fourth of July weekends. They have even released a ransomware awareness alert for holidays and weekends. The agencies have done their part by spreading awareness; it’s your time now. But how would you ensure unbreachable cybersecurity during the holidays? Here are some expert tips to stay safe during the holidays that can help.

1. Resist the Unresistable Offers on Emails

Email phishing and social engineering are the simplest attacks that threat actors can leverage during the holiday seasons. Several retailers plan email campaigns to attract customers. This is where the threat actors take advantage. They send some lucrative offers on emails to potential victims that the latter cannot resist. As soon as the users click on a link or download an attachment, the adversaries get an opportunity to enter your systems. Alert and train your staff to identify such fraudulent emails.

2.  Mitigate Vulnerabilities by Updating Software and Security Patches

Cybercriminals are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. As the IT security staff might be on holiday, it becomes easier for the attackers to exploit any newly found vulnerability. One of the recent examples is Apache Log4j zero-day vulnerability. Such vulnerabilities occur due to outdated software or lack of configuration. Hence, before shutting down the office and going for the holidays, updating any outdated software and security patches is vital.

The best way to do this is by assessing your systems to find any potential vulnerabilities. Vulnerability assessments can help identify any loopholes or blind spots. This can help evaluate all the risks and mitigate them based on priorities.

3. Do Not Neglect the Endpoints

Due to the new remote workforce culture, several employees have started using their personal devices to access business-critical systems deployed on the cloud. They might use the same device to shop from vulnerable e-commerce sites. The major problem here is that most personal devices are not as secure as the business endpoints. Hence, these are easy targets cybercriminals can prey upon.

Ensure that all the endpoints accessing your systems, be they personal or business, are secured as a part of your cybersecurity strategy. You can deploy Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) or Extended Detection and Response (XDR) tools for this purpose. EDR and XDR security tools can cover and secure all the endpoints in your IT posture. However, deploying these tools is not enough; you also need to monitor them. If you don’t have in-house resources to monitor EDR and XDR, you can leverage Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services. MDR service providers can ensure the robust security of your IT assets when you are out enjoying the holidays.

4. Backup is Your Savior

Most cyberattacks, especially ransomware, encrypt critical data to cause downtime. You cannot access the files until you pay the ransom. Even after paying the demanded amount, there’s no assurance that the attacker will decrypt the files. Hence, you need data backup to minimize the consequences of any breach. Try to have all the backups offline and not anywhere else on your network. Consider backing up all the important files and data before going for the holidays.

5. Prioritize Network Security

One of the mitigation methods suggested by CISA in its holiday awareness post is securing networks. Adversaries hide in your networks to laterally move across the servers, systems, and the network itself.

You can start with segmentation to secure your networks. Network segmentation refers to dividing the network into multiple small networks. Thus, each small network starts acting like another network. Another thing you can do is filter out malicious IP addresses. Similarly, you can also create a list of malicious websites and prevent users from accessing the blocked sites. Firewall audits and assessments can also prove vital in securing your networks.

6. Eliminate the Human Error Factor

Regardless of the strength of your cybersecurity, it all comes down to educating your staff. While you might be conducting user awareness training in your office, it is advised to have a session tailored for holiday awareness, especially if you allow your employees to access business systems from personal devices.

The training should focus on the basic dos and don’ts while on holiday. Some of the points to highlight include:

  • Think wisely before clicking on a holiday promotion link or offer
  • Shop only from validated and trusted e-commerce sites
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access sensitive information or social media accounts
  • Update all software on mobile phones
  • Avoid using public USB ports

How SharkStriker Can Secure Your Business While You Enjoy Your Holidays

There is so much to do and less time to ensure optimal security. Not everyone can have the resources required to establish unbreachable cybersecurity before holidays. SharkStriker can take care of your organization’s security posture with its Managed Security Services. Our cybersecurity experts work 24/7 to monitor every activity in your networks, systems, and servers to detect, prevent, and respond to attacks.

Our SOC team leverages our MDR platform built with the ORCA philosophy to deliver services Managed Security Services. The ORCA philosophy goes beyond the traditional observe and response mechanism to ensure compliance and awareness through a single platform. With SharkStriker by your side, you can rest assured that all the necessary measures and security best practices are implemented to secure your company during the holidays.

Wrapping it up

Looking at the recent trend, adversaries will indeed be on the lookout to attack companies that have kept their guards down. Follow the mentioned cybersecurity tips to secure your company during the holidays. While you enjoy the time with your family, the fear of cyberattacks should not hinder your lovely moments. Connect with our experts today and let SharkStriker take care of the cybersecurity not only for the holidays but all year long so that you can focus on the other important facets of running a business.